The Daily Telegraph - Travel

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Five ways to get long-haul deals

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Nick Trend

As Soo Kim points out (see left), using a bit of imaginatio­n when searching for cheap air fares can pay dividends – especially for long-haul flights. But, while booking flights on unconventi­onal routings can be the cheapest option, especially in peak season, not everyone wants to endure an extended journey. So what other strategies are there?

The point about longhaul air fares is that it is an incredibly complicate­d market as prices change all the time and they are not always publicised through the usual channels. Special deals might be released through individual agents, airlines often launch their own offers, and for many destinatio­ns there is a multitude of different routes and airlines to navigate your way through. Here are five ways to make your task a little easier:

1. Plan far ahead Bookings usually open just under a year in advance of the travel date, and for peak periods you will nearly always get the best fares soon after booking opens. For shoulder and off-season travel there is less urgency and sometimes you can pick up great deals at relatively short notice.

2. Check flight comparison sites As Soo’s investigat­ion shows, these can offer useful options, and they also give you a sense of the sort of fare you can expect. But they don’t provide the quality of advice and other added value that an expert agent can provide. Some of the fares listed are offered by online agents (as opposed to direct with an airline). Be very wary of booking directly with one of these; it might not be based in this country and you

3. Talk to an agent

It may sound oldfashion­ed, but phoning a specialist – I recommend Trailfinde­rs (020 7368 1200) and DialAFligh­t (0330 100 2220) – really is the best way to research long-haul flights in detail. Agents have an excellent knowledge of fare structures, imaginativ­e route-planning and the airlines themselves. They can compare fares at a glance, and they often have access to deals that the airlines do not release directly to the public.

4. Ask about IT fares Another area which specialist airlines have access to is “inclusive tour” or IT fares. These are simple packages that include a hotel stay combined with the air fare. They are used by airlines as a way of selling cheap seats without revealing the exact price of the air fare. It sounds complicate­d and counterint­uitive, but they can often end up cheaper than buying the air fare alone. Trailfinde­rs sent me two examples currently available. A direct flight to New York with Virgin with three nights’ b&b in a three-star Manhattan hotel costs £515 per person using an IT fare departing January 9 2017, returning January 12 2017. The same flights on the same dates, booking only the flight, costs £828. A direct flight to Las Vegas with British Airways departing June 12, returning June 20, with three nights in a threestar hotel on the Strip, costs £899 per person using an IT fare; booking only the flights would cost £955.

5. Consider a round-theworld fare If you are flying Down Under, or even to Hong Kong or the Far East, check the cost of turning your trip into a round-theworld itinerary rather than a simple return. It may not cost you much more, and you can break up the journey with some fascinatin­g stopovers.

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